Monday, 15 August 2016

Castle Assault 2016 - lists and predictions time!

Castle Assault 2016 - lists and predictions time!

One of the best parts of the tournament experience here in Aus is that the lists get published a bit ahead of the event and we can all have a good look over them. As a new player at CA last year this was a great opportunity to acquaint myself with the wide array of stuff I'd never encountered before and get at least a vague idea of what it could do. For example CA2015 was the first time I fought Eldar Titans, Necrons and my second game against Tyranids. This year just for a bit of fun I thought I'd throw together a few thoughts and predictions. 

First let's start with a few thoughts on the current meta. As I mentioned big difference with CA to many comps is that it offers a margin of victory system rather than a straight win/loss/draw on objectives so it supports armies that can play aggressively and take ground. 

With that in mind my first impression is where are all the Eldar armies! The current breakdown of forces looks like this 
3 marines
2 steel legion
1 minervans
3 Titans 
1 Knights
2 Chaos
3 Ork
1 tau
1 necron
1 Dark eldar

Compared to the break down at Cancon this year this is an interesting pattern. It's generally accepted in Aus circles that Eldar are an extremely powerful list for comp play whilst Orks/Tau/Steel legion are at the bottom of the power ladder, in fact both Orks and Tau were absent completely from Cancon this year and there was a high prevalence of more traditionally hard builds. Perhaps it's a reflection of the nature of players at the comp or just a feeling that Castle Assault is more of a beers with mates weekend, I guess we will see! 

Following is a quick run down of my thoughts on the lists coming along, take it for a grain of salt as always, I'm never going to claim to be an expert on every list but I do get around a bit so if you're coming along and gain a few insights you mightn't have otherwise it's totally worth it. For the record my list is the feral Orks below so I'm definitely approaching this from their perspective. 

The full copy of lists can be found here so I won't cut and paste because it goes on for a while...

Castle Assault Lists 2016

Player 1 - Codex Marines
Nice build with a few fairly predictable and effective elements included. You could expect a thunderhawk full of termies in the face and the second thunderhawk with nothing that obviously fits inside would suggest a drop off pick up recycle plan might be in play. Personally I'm not a huge fan of the whirlwinds and I reckon that the Warhound pack is a pretty vulnerable BTS so I do think this list will struggle against some of the stronger builds. 

Player 2 - Codex Marines 
Clearly this one missed the memo that says that marines are only effective with air assaults, these guys must have a fear of flying. With 9 activations and a lot of table to cover before it can be effective I'm not so sure this one is going to do well. Interestingly again the Warhound pack is the BTS as well, someone is clearly selling these thugs cheaply. 

Player 3 - Codex Marines 
Have to admit this is the only marine list I'd rate as a chance of coming good this weekend. This one has clearly done their homework and assembled some of the stronger tactical options. Note the now iconic tactical Blitz gaurding formation with what I can only assume is a spare 25pt razorback, two thunderhawks that will no doubt be full of Devastators and terminators. Single Warhounds meaning the BTS is the far more resilient tactical formation and a few bonus options like a double pie plate worth of macro death from space and some super fast and flexible speeder units. This list is way more flexible than the others and the speed and hitting power will no doubt show up in the final rankings. I've seen orbital barrage basically end games in turn 1 because of poor deployments so I'll imagine there might be be some good stories coming from this too.

Player 4 - Steel legion 
This guy clearly hasn't got the memo that DKOK are the superior form of Gaurd but this certainly has enough shadowswords to make my feral Orks cry. If the list has an issue its that its extremely one dimensional, all the reinforced 4+ armies are going to cry as are vehicles in general but the old problem with volcano cannons is that they kill 1 base whether it's a big scary thing or a base of grots. If he gets the right match ups this list could do really well, if it's dense tables and lots of infantry it could struggle. Note that last year when I wrote something similar I predicted which army would be my worst possible match up and through a random bullshit miracle ended up drawing in the first round... This year I say nothing....

Player 5  - Steel Legion
Another player who missed the memo, in fact this one missed a few of them. Like the one that said that artillery companies are terrible in every respect, especially as your BTS. That said it has some interesting advantages over the other Steel Legion list, one being that it's more flexible because of having far more barrage templates so that could be good. Also it has lots of speed and in this comp that could be a huge factor overall. Still a nice amount of solid armour choices and some of the mandatory shadowswords to blow chunks out of my army. The core infantry companies are bloated with upgrades that would have been better spent on more activations in my mind but we will see if this new formulae proves effective. 

Player 6 - Minervans 
Wow this guys is clearly a Matt Shadowlord fanboy because I know he's not in attendance but this list is 90% identical to what Matt won Cancon with a few years back. I'm loving the inclusion of Stormswords, one of those rarely seen units that really are a hidden gem. 9BP worth of disrupt and ignore cover is going to put some peoples forces to grief and he's got all the other bases covered with some anti Titan capacity and scouts to keep the tanks safe from teleporters etc. I suspect that if he draws some of the Titans or the mega shadowsword horde he might struggle somewhat but otherwise it's got the speed and the hitting power to do really well. 

Player 7 - Legio Gryphonicus 
I've nicknamed this list "noisy cricket" after MIB, it's going to hit like a Mak truck but will it have the longevity? Low activations is always a big risk and he's counting a lot on his enemy advancing within range so that he can mess you up. Anyone whose read my article on taking down Titans won't fall for those shenanigans though so we will see how it goes. I'd love to see this go up against the the steel legion of the magical fires found draw fairy is paying attention...

Player 8 - Legio Gryphonicus 
Looks like there was a big sale on Reavers and Warhounds this year, this one seems to have gone for the quantity over quality style of shooting and will need a bucket of dice in every shooting phase. I'm wondering if there aren't secretly Orks driving these guys. Lots of variety here with some speed and plenty of hitting power. I've always enjoyed the long range/no line of sight shenanigans of the quake cannon carapace landing combo, those templates are going to cause some grief no doubt. Still only 7 activations though and I'm always thinking that will be a problem. 

Player 9 - Legio Gryphonicus 
Rounding out the trifecta is the Titan list that I reckon is the most balanced of the 3. This one has a good combination of volcano TK shots and plasma macro death to put some serious pain flown across the table. It lacks the blast templates that would be nice but you can't take everything when you run the giant death engines. Lots of speed for objective grabbing with those Warhounds and some crusaders to babysit the home objectives as required. With 9 activations this one will be good. 

Player 10 - Knight World 
In theory knights should be one of the best armies available for this particular comp. They've got speed, love engagements and are generally great at it. The flip side of course is that they don't really like giant piles of TkD3 and this comp seems to be drowning in it... Considering the makeup of the list is almost exclusively errants and castellans this person has done their homework and min/maxed the best options available so good work on that point. No doubt he will also catch out some players who are ignorant of what Knights can do. I remember my first game going horribly for that very reason. Just remember people's Knights like to fight in only one chunk of the board, spread them out and you can engage them as individual units, much more effective. Also read up on the shield rules, they do have weaknesses, just not many! 

Player 11 - Emperors children
This army will look surprisingly similar to the one from my recent bat rep article and with good reason. The player running the list might be a little green in the Epic world but the army is solid. We will have to see if war gaming skills are transferable between systems because this is a great list overall. Paying homage to the strike hard and break the spine mentality of codex marines you can expect some awesome engagements from this list. Flying down from the sky death with be supplemented with choppy in your face death from the subjugators who can really capitalise on the 12 activations and strategy 4 rating against those slow and disorganised Titan and Gaurd armies. Come of think of it this has all the tools to plough my feral Orks... Should have thought of that when I wrote the damn list...

Player 12 - Black Legion 
Cleary this player is all about the fluff, Black legion are so 2015 thanks to Emperors Children but I love the theme here. Everything is super fast. It's going to rain fire, then rain marines in perfect synchronicity with a face full of bikes, rhinos and daemons. Armies like this play that super fun psych out game where it's that giant question mark of where are the drop pods going. Win or lose I have no doubt every game with be dramatic and heaps of fun. Watch out for those daemons, those buggers have teeth. 

Player 13 - Feral Orks 
I've heard this guy is only playing for fun after taking out this years Cancon and you can tell from his hodge podge collection of troops. I mean this one is literally bringing s knife to a gun fight, along with some catapults and dinosaurs FFS. All those activations means he's going to drag out the inevitable death every game but I for one wouldn't even bother reading up on the rules or stats for this army. You'd have to be a co,plate muppet to lose to a bunch of spears and bows. #absoutetruth #nobias

Player 14 - Ghazghull's Orks 
I remember this army from last year and though my Minervans did take it down I can tell you it's an impressive sight on the table. It's basically a wall of ork metal from one side of the board to the other with massive engagement potential. Everything that isn't great for engagement is carrying a zap gun to top it off. My bows and spears might have trouble finding a gap here. The trick to beating it is simple, don't be overwhelmed by the sheer awesome scale. Pick your targets, concentrate fire and you'll quickly work out that gun wagons aren't leman russ. Also worth remembering for both the ork lists that barrage weapons hit each model separately, great for sniping out oddboys from the huge mobs. 

Player 15 - Ghazghull's Orks
I'm going to preface this by saying this army is my pick for tounnament champion straight up. A solid general with a tried and tested build, the only thing that could go wrong is that he's entitled to a bottomless beer mug for being the runner up at last years comp so the rest of us may have a chance. At many comps I just wouldn't rate Orks as a chance but you can see from the lists coming that many of the more traditionally competitive builds just aren't coming. Any well played Eldar force for example will just decimate Orks and they really struggle against many Gaurd builds too. In this case there are no Eldar and most of the Gaurd are heavy on armour which could work in the Orks favour, they have higher strat and a serious array of TK death so it will absolutely come down to dice but I'm confident this player will make his own luck by getting the right stuff in the right spots. Having a pile of activations is going to help immensely with that plan too. The gargant may not enjoy is weekend depending on matchup and I could see him spending much time hiding behind something larger than him. Always have to watch out for that landa too, I imagine it will be circling the table until the last activation ready for some surprise death to land. The real question is what's going to fit inside it...

Player 16 - Necrons 
You know a quick glance over the list shows you all the usual suspects as far as Necrons are concerned. Nice chunky units of warriors with the Immortal in there so that the lord can join the unit and hit a bit easier in FF whilst still resurrecting, tomb spiders to add a fearless model to the unit and help the resurrecting, multiple units of monoliths with obelisks for blast marker resilience etc. I love the inclusion of the tomb complex which is so under-utilised and the lack of Ctan which in my mind is overrated. The only odd option here is the harvester engine but given the amount of armour and Titans this might just prove to be the best decision he's ever made. Definately a solid army with a solid general, one to watch. 

Player 17 - Tau 
Well it's got speed, skimmer, activation count and shots covered well enough. It's probably getting my award for the most original army coming along too. I have no idea who plays Tau so the player is a wildcard to me and nobody I've ever heard of runs Tau competitively... So my feedback is just a big ? really. Will this prove to be some amazing new concept build with a range of unprecedented strategies or just someone who really loves tetras and hammerheads. My feeling is that it's too refined for a pure fluff lover, My Orks have a bad feeling about this list. I for one will be really excited to see it go off.

Player 18 - Dark Eldar 
Another relative unknown on my radar but damn there is some cool stuff in this list. You really do need to read the list closely to spot in but it felt like every time I looked up a unit there was hidden macro or TK shots or some other sneaky trick. This list will also be really cool and no doubt catch out many unprepared opponents with all of its sneakiness. I absolutely applaud the person who wrote this list for being one of those rare individuals to find something that nobody has seen around here before. Let's see if they can make it work as well as my imagination has it going! Also going to be keen to see what models they have used for some of the harder to get stuff.

So onto some quick predictions

On paper alone my feeling is that the most finely tuned competitive lists (not including myself of course!) are these: 

Player 3 - Codex Marines
Player 6 - Minervans
Player 10 - Knight World 
Player 11 - Emperors children
Player 15 - Ghazghull's Orks

Now I know that both the Minervans and the Emperor's children are borrowed armies from guys who don't have much experience with the builds... so my top 3 trifecta would finish up looking like this:

Player 15 - Ghazghull's Orks
Player 10 - Knight World 
Player 3 - Codex Marines

But as I said a few times matchup is everthing, usually over 5 games it will shake itself out but we will see. I'm also allocating a wildcard option to these 3: 

Player 16 - Necrons 
Player 17 - Tau 
Player 18 - Dark Eldar 

All are solid builds and could absolutely make the podium in my mind but I just have no idea about the players behind them and I'm of the opinion that it's the player who makes the biggest difference. I almost added the Volcano loving Steel legion to this but my feeling is that despite having more firepower than the Death Star they won't be able to capitalise on this comp pack because of low movement, basically the same reason I'm not including the AMTL lists. If this was the Cancon pack this list would be totally different and that's the beauty of mixing it up for comps! 

Thoughts and feedback always welcome, if you reckon my predictions are garbage let's hear it! 


  1. So Steve, how'd your reviews and predictions pan out from the weekend?

    1. Predictions ended up pretty well when ou think of it but not 100%, glad I didn't have money on it. You're Orks went as well as I expected they would and sadly knocked my Knights prediction off the podium in the last round. My marine prediction went to crap because the player behind them bailed out halfway for family reasons and I totally couldn't predict that!

      Of my wildcards though the results were more interesting. I predicted the Necrons would do well and they were crushing all until the last round when they ran into my savage Orks and got knocked off the podium and the dark Eldar struggled as they bashed their heads against Titan armies 3/5 games, everyone knows it's hard to get a big win out of Titans.

      If anything the biggest upset was the Tau, they crushed their way through most opponents and in my mind were set for a podium before being destroyed by an astartes army in the last round that I didn't
      Even rate as worth a note... Clearly my marine bias tainted me, or maybe that Tau general just crumbled to the pressure and did a Gibb style last round choker.

      I clearly need to adjust my predictions prior to Cancon, CA revealed a couple of new players with some potential to shake the top spots at future comps and I'm keen to see how it changes things in the future.